I had joked with Phoebe earlier in the day that with the crowds, the fastest way to get out of the District might be by walking across the Memorial Bridge, and heading south. It turned out to be no joke. We just took a different bridge!
When it was clear we wouldn’t make any progress any time soon at L’Enfant Plaza, we kept walking. Of course, I had not brought a district map with me, so we were making our way based on my recollection of directions, metro stops, highways and bridges. I reminded Phoebe about my comment of walking across Memorial Bridge. She asked how far it was. We were at about 12th Street; I told her the State Department building was between 21st and 23rd, and Memorial Bridge was the the west of that. So, we only had a dozen blocks to go just to get to the bridge. Happily, as we walked west, we saw that there were a handful of people walking on the 14th Street Bridge. This is the bridge that carries I-395 traffic into DC. It was surreal not to see any traffic on it, and even more surreal to walk the length of the bridge into Crystal City.
I have never made a special trip to see the Jefferson Memorial in all the time I lived in the DC area, or in any of the trips I’ve made back there. This could be the closest I’ve ever come. Certainly, it was the best – unobstructed! – view I could ever expect!
As the crow flies, the distance from the Capitol to Crystal City is about 3 miles; our path from L’Enfant Plaza to the Capitol, to the Mall, to L’Enfant Plaza, and then to Crystal City was about 6 miles. We weren’t prepared for quite SO much walking, but our boots and thick hiking socks served us well. Nonetheless, I don’t think we were even half way across the bridge before Phoebe and I started to wonder how we were going to be able to put on our shoes for the Ball that evening, much less walk in them.
It was gratifying at least to see that we were making better progress than the traffic on the bridge heading out of town. There was a convoy of emergency vehicles that screamed by as we started across the bridge – they were still on the bridge trying to cross when we got to the other side. Ouch!
It was disorienting to see Crystal City from “the back side” and so deserted. When Phoebe and I stopped at an intersection for a light, a taxi asked if we wanted a ride. At first I was tempted, and then couldn’t figure out quickly where we would have him take us – the metro stop? to Franconia? that seemed silly. I had even forgotten that we weren’t parked at the metro, and that our car was at the shopping center. Anyway, we waved off the taxi and walked the rest of the way to the metro. By then, we had no problem getting on a train, and rode the rest of the way to Franconia. Too bad we had to walk back to the shopping mall to get our car!